Consumer expectations have shifted dramatically over the years due in large part to the power of the internet. Before smartphones found their way into our pockets, a bad experience only spread to those around us––friends, family and maybe a few coworkers.
Today, it’s easier than ever for a customer to spot a problem, take a picture and broadcast the bad news to hundreds or thousands of others checking you out online whether it’s on Yelp, Twitter, or any other platform your business lives on.
This raises the stakes for customer satisfaction across the board, forcing stores, restaurants and other businesses to keep a closer eye on every part of the experience, including the tiny details that tend to go unnoticed until problems happen.
A clean business means a clean reputation
We all know cleanliness is important, but for the average grocer, the focus is somewhere specific––namely, the food.
Similarly for a retailer, cleanliness first means keeping the products well-displayed and well-stocked throughout the day. One area that is arguably just as important to keep clean, yet commonly overlooked, is the bathroom.
For any business that carries a high expectation for cleanliness, the state of the bathroom is an indicator for how well clean the rest of the store or restaurant is. To the hyper-aware customers that walk through your door, if you can’t bother to keep the bathroom clean, what else can’t you be bothered to do?
With this in mind, clean bathrooms have become paramount to delivering the kind of flawless experiences customers have come to expect. Here are four ways bathrooms can tie directly to your bottom line:
1. A bad first impression can make a customer’s first experience their last
According to a 2013 USA Today article by Bruce Horowitz, nearly 30% of consumers will not step into a business again if a dirty bathroom affected their first impression.
Like I said before, while a dirty bathroom doesn’t actually condemn any other part of the store, the only thing that matters is what the customer thinks––and often that often boils down to:
“If they can’t even keep the bathroom clean, what does that say about the rest of the place?”
It’s extremely difficult to change negative impressions without investing time and energy into changing someone’s mind––and even that is sometimes impossible. It’s far easier to simply get things right the first time. By giving the customer a positive experience right off the bat with a clean restroom, you can start off on the right foot with a positive relationship. The benefit is twofold:
They come back again, and
They tell their friends and family about how great you are and you get more customers
Simple as that.
2. Eliminate customer complaints that can poison the well for new business
Keeping your bathrooms clean can cut down heavily on customer complaints. According to HelpScout, a company that helps businesses improve their customer relations, it takes twelve positive customer experiences to make up for just one negative customer experience.
Customer service is what your staff is there for. If they’re constantly handling customer complaints, they simply won’t have the time to connect with customers anywhere else. This can lead to a complete breakdown in your front-facing customer relations, which in turn has a very bad impact on your bottom line.
Keeping down customer complaints not only keeps your customers happy, but your employees engaged and focused rather than anxious about the next.
3. Positive conversations generate genuine trust among potential customers
According to consumer psychologist Kit Yarrow in his new book, Decoding the New Consumer Mind,” today’s typical consumer has become extremely reliant on reviews by others like them due to the perceived “objectivity” of what others not connected to the business have to say.
This conversation is increasingly pervading timelines and twitter feeds too. Now, even businesses that don’t actively engage on social media can’t stop the conversation from happening without you.
With reviews and social commentary being so easy to access on-the-go thanks to smartphones and now wearables like the Apple Watch, ensuring customers are reading good things about your business is crucially important, especially if you’re gunning for the younger, more engaged demographic.
While you can’t expect the average customer to spend the time writing a glowing review about your clean bathroom (something they already expect), you can rest assured they won’t hesitate to write a negative review to warn others when that expectation isn’t met.
4. Travelers target clean bathrooms in unfamiliar places
People go to stores to shop, not use the bathroom. Unless of course they’re traveling and nature calls.
When people journey to new places, a recognizable store is often the only familiar spot around. More often than not, our pit stop decisions are influenced by what we already know. If you’ve had clean bathroom experiences at every other store location you’ve been, chances are you’ll find the same thing wherever you are.
While casual visits like these might not seem like much of a business opportunity, travelers are constantly in need of all kinds of things they can’t simply run home for. Depending on the store and the location, these impulse buys can be a substantial source of sales.
Want to learn more about how the little details of the shopping experience make a big impact on today’s customer? Grab our free eGuide: